CARB Ruling Saves Diesel Truck Owners Money, Time

October 22, 2010

Board action saves diesel fleets money, time

Revised rule eliminates duplicate testing for delivery vans and larger pick-up trucks

SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board today voted to provide relief for fleet owners of medium-sized commercial diesel trucks by streamlining the procedures for testing their trucks’ emissions.

The Board’s decision amended the Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP) to exempt diesel fleet owners of delivery vans and larger pick-up trucks 1998 and newer from mandatory annual smoke inspections because, under a new law, they must undergo a Smog Check every other year. The Board’s decision is expected to save industry approximately $4.2 million annually.

The streamlined approach removing the PSIP test requirement affects 77,000 lighter trucks with weights between 6,000 and 14,000 pounds. The decision will have a negligible impact on air quality because these vehicles will remain subject to an every-other-year Smog Check, which includes a smoke inspection.

“It makes good sense to amend this regulation,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “Our experts believe there is little air quality benefit to be gained from performing both types of smoke inspection. The Board’s action today will help many business owners save time, save money, and will still help to remove diesel pollution from the air thus protecting public health.”

Enacted in 2007, AB 1488 requires diesel passenger cars and trucks manufactured after 1997 and weighing 14,000 pounds or less to be included in the California Smog Check Program, and thus be subject to biennial emissions testing starting Jan. 1, 2010. Administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Automotive Repair with assistance from ARB, diesel smog check inspections consist of a visual inspection of the emission control devices, a check of the vehicles on-board diagnostic system, and a visual assessment of the vehicle’s smoke level.

The PSIP was signed into law in 1990 to control excess smoke emissions and tampering from fleets of heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses. The PSIP requires owners of California-based fleets with two or more diesel-powered vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds to conduct annual smoke opacity inspections. Vehicles that fail the test must be removed from service, repaired and retested.

With the 2010 implementation of biennial Smog Checks for lighter diesel vehicles, nearly 77,000 diesel vehicles are subject to both Smog Checks and the smoke test. Without the amendment adopted today, owners of these vehicles would have to submit to both an annual PSIP test and a Smog Check every other year. Inspections under the PSIP program average $55 per test, while a Smog Check averages $47.

Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and over 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. In 1998, California identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death and other health problems. In 2000, the ARB established California's Diesel Risk Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce diesel emissions to 85 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.